January 13, 2014

greetings from... the mid-atlantic

In my novel Hard Hats and Doormats, human resources manager Lexi Burke travels the Gulf Coast training employees, settling disputes and maintaining order for a chemical company. Like Lexi, my first job out of college involved a lot of travel––I visited more than 20 states in four years. In this series, I'll share some of my real life experiences exploring the country.

The first time I set foot in the Mid-Atlantic, I was awe-struck. It was September 2008, and I caught my first glimpse as my plane finished its trip over the Great Lakes and landed in Buffalo. I was in New York. A place I'd always dreamed of visiting. Sure, I'd sort of been dreaming about Manhattan, but still, this was close.

On that first day, I had to drive from Buffalo to my hotel in a town near Boston. This gave me the opportunity to take in the scenery. I had a chance to see the Adirondacks on the north side of I-90. I saw the Catskills to the south. I paid tolls to a toll booth for the first time.

And, I was pulled over by a police officer for the first time. It was the first time in my 22 years of living that I'd ever seen those flashing lights in my rear-view mirror. I nervously pulled over to the side of the road, and rolled down my window. The police officer asked for my license and registration -- which was my paperwork for the rental car I'd picked up a few hours earlier.

"Do you know why I pulled you over?"

I had a fairly good idea, but I didn't know for sure. "Was it because I was talking on my cell phone?" I asked, not knowing I should have played dumb.


And while he wrote me a ticket for using a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle, I learned my first valuable lesson -- using a cell phone while driving a car is not only a bad idea, but it's illegal some places.

At the same time, I also panicked. Crap. Was I going to be fired? I'd only been at my job a month, and getting pulled over didn't seem like a good mistake to make that early on the job. Fortunately, after paying my ticket, all was well. But it left a lasting impression.

During my two years of making bimonthly visits east, I had the opportunity to travel across New York state countless times, including several trips through the Adirondacks -- one of my most favorite places in the world. I also visited customers in northwestern Pennsylvania and New Jersey, though I spent the bulk of time in New York.

And with that, I give you my postcards from the Mid-Atlantic.

(Quick Note: Unfortunately, I didn't save any of my photos from Pennsylvania or New Jersey.)

Buffalo Central Terminal in Buffalo, NY.
October 2008.

I first saw this building featured on an episode of
Ghost Hunters, and I had to stop to take a few
photos. I would've loved nothing more than to go
check out the building, but I already felt a bit naughty
driving this close to a derelict building.

My first glimpse of Canada (taken from between Watertown and Massena NY)

Lake Placid, NY (Spring 2009).

Lake Saranac (Spring 2009)

Manhattan (Winter 2010)

I loved how the water would freeze down mountainsides.
I'd never seen anything like it before.

The most beautiful rail yard in the world - Selkirk, NY (south of Albany).

One regret: Not stopping to check this out.

Flying over the Great Lakes toward Buffalo.

I've never seen snow like the snow I saw in Upstate New York.

This is younger me - 23 years old.

About Hard Hats and Doormats
Lexi Burke has always been a stickler for following rules and procedures. As a human resources manager for a leading Gulf Coast chemical company, it’s her job to make sure everyone else falls in line, too.

But after losing out on a big promotion––because her boss sees her as too much of a yes-woman––Lexi adopts a new policy of following her heart instead of the fine print. And her heart knows what it wants: Jason Beaumont, a workplace crush who is off limits based on her previous protocol.

While navigating a new romance and interoffice politics, Lexi must find the confidence to stand on her own or face a lifetime of following someone else’s orders.

Who says nice girls have to finish last?

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